As a real estate agent, I often anticipate the buyers' request to limit the home search to those properties found within the boundaries of the very best school district. Naturally, I respect that wish as I'm lining up houses to show.
Still, I can't help but wonder why that preoccupation exists . Please understand that I'm not advocating failing schools nor those with a reputation for violence - only delightful, ordinary neighborhood schools.
Years ago, we didn't worry about these things. Whatever school you were zoned for is the one you attended. And most of us grew up just fine, achieved and even prospered over the course of a lifetime.
As a former educator and part of a family of educators, literacy and achievement has always been top on my list. Coming from one who read to her babies in utero, I've always been sold on the importance of education and its crucial role in presenting options when one is trying to rise above difficult circumstances.
Ideally, I believe that a nurturing home environment, conducive to learning is where education starts and families who frequent the local library and other educational sites are building a strong foundation for successful future endeavors. Children can sense when a premium is placed on knowledge and, as they grow, with an allowance for normal age-related hiccups, they will mirror the values displayed in their households.
A love for education takes time to nurture and grow. It begins for the very young with outside positive reinforcement - the "gold star" of yesteryear. If you're lucky enough to cross paths with someone who can ignite in you the passion to learn, learning for its own sake, you'll be set forever. The person who "sees" something in you and is willing to devote some time can be a trusted teacher or anyone else.
Obviously, we can't all live within the borders of the #1 school district. Supply and demand insure home prices remain exorbitant and Long Island's annual taxes, for example, average a hefty $16,000 a year and rise much, much higher.
I can't emphasize enough the competitive nature that exists in the most exclusive school districts and I question whether what often amounts to a cut-throat environment is in every child's best interest. How much better to be a big fish in a small pond during adolescence when physical, emotional and social growth is fraught with insecurities and stress?
Certainly, the school district must be a factor in your choice of neighborhood - one factor, amongst many. As one of my commenters, below, astutely stated, " I still believe that one of the best indicators of a good school is a list of the colleges and technical programs that the graduates have been accepted into. "
Always consider other variables that make up quality of life like affordability, proximity to family and friends, parks and recreation, etc. Teachable moments are not limited to the inside of a classroom but are found everyday and everywhere. The most enduring life lessons can be transferred to other fields and adult life.
No matter how you spend your day, come home to this
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Graduate REALTOR Institute
Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore
Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate Transitions
©Jill Sackler 2010